Sheffield Steeldogs enjoy perfect start to Spring Cup campaign with double header triumph over Swindon

SHEFFIELD STEELDOGS ensured a perfect start to their Spring Cup campaign with a double triumph over NIHL National rivals Swindon Wildcats.

Action from SAturday's Spring Cup clash between Swindon and Sheffield. Picture courtesy of Steeldogs' Facebook Page.

A 4-2 win on home ice on Sunday night came 24 hours after a hard-fought 5-4 triumph in Wiltshire.

Greg Wood’s team, boosted last week by the addition of NHL Draft pick Liam Kirk and Sheffield Steelers’ GB internationals Davey Phillips and Jonathan Phillips, now enjoy a weekend off before returning to action in the behind-closed-doors tournament at home to Raiders IHC on February 27.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

"Results-wise, of course I’m pleased with how it went. You can never grumble when you get two wins out of two," said head coach Wood.

Sheffield Steeldogs' player-coach, Greg Wood. Picture courtesy of Peter Best/Steeldogs.

"We were perhaps a bit sloppy, at times, but I don’t think it helped going so far ahead so early. We talked about having a big start and overwhelming teams, which I thought we did really well today, but once we did that I felt we kind of took our foot off the gas a little bit.

"But we’re still a relatively new team playing together, so it will be nice to get a couple of weeks straight training under our belts now and then on to the next games against Raiders."

It was the younger Kirk - he was playing alongside his older brother Jonathan for the first-ever time - who took all the plaudits on the Saturday, scoring four of the Steeldogs’ goals.

And he proved as lively on home ice too, having a hand in two of the hosts first three goals, all of which came inside the first seven minutes to leave the Wildcats stunned.

ON TARGET: Liam Kirk scored two goals scross both games in the Spring Cup for Sheffield Steeldogs. Picture courtesy of Dean Woolley.

Ben O’Connor - scorer of what turned out to be the Steeldogs’ match-winning strike on Saturday - opened the scoring this time around after good approach work from Kirk left him positioned behind the net from where he played the puck in off the unfortunate goaltender, Jordan Marr with just 4.18 on the clock.

That lead was doubled just 36 seconds later by Kirk himself when he guided the puck into the net after a pinpoint feed from fellow GB international O’Connor out of the bottom right-hand corner.

Jason Hewitt then exchanged passes with Alex Graham before weaving his way through to flick the puck over Marr’s right shoulder to make it 3-0 at 6.31.

The Steeldogs tightened their grip even further when the impressive 18-year-old Graham fired in from in front after a neat feed from Graig Elliott.

Ben O'Connor, centre, scored two goals and two asists over the two-game weekend for the Steeldogs. Picture courtesy of Cerys Molloy.

The scoreline was probably a touch harsh on the visitors, but they proceeded to keep Steelddogs’ goalie Dmitri Zimozdra throughout the rest of the period, even getting some reward when Balint Pakozdi rounded the back of the net and fired into the top of the net from a tight angle.

But while Swindon certainly enjoyed a greater share of possession and chances in the second 30 minutes, the Steeldogs’ three-goal lead remained intact, only being further reduced with 48 seconds remaining when Reed Sayers cut in from the left to fire past Zimozdra.

The previous evening, Kirk Jnr had proved the star of the show, scoring four of the Steeldogs’ goals, with Ben O’Connor adding another in a 5-4 win.

Kirk grabbed his first Spring Cup strike at 3.01 before trading blows with Swindon player-coach Aaron Nell, with the NHL Draft pick making it 3-2 with his hat-trick strike early in the third.

His fourth came at 51.43, but the persistent Nell registered his own hat-trick at 57.30.

As Swindon pushed for the equaliser, they pulled their goalie, which allowed O’Connor to restore the Steeldogs’ two-goal advantage, although a Toms Rutkis strike with 71 seconds remaining ensured a nervous finale for the visitors.

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive membiers-only offers. Click HERE to subscribe.